In his second inaugural speech, President Obama said, "We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully - not because we are nave about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation. We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom."
Such claims are simply bizarre! Anyone paying slightest attention to history and facts would find, instead, that the U.S. foreign policy - especially with regard to Iran and the wider Middle East minus Israel - has been anything but peaceful. For more than half a century, it has been violent, destructive and utterly hostile to the wishes and aspirations of those people. Even to this very day, the U.S. government has been less than a reluctant supporter for democracy in that part of the world. It had held onto the despots like the Shah of Iran and Husni Mubarak of Egypt as long as it could until popular revolution had forced those puppets out. Even today, the Syrian murderer Bashar Assad had managed to hold onto power simply because the Obama administration would not come to the material aid of the Syrian people and its resistance forces fighting the brutal regime.
The United States has opposed and attempted to block Palestine's upgraded UN status at every step. After the UN General Assembly voted on November 29, 2012 overwhelmingly to upgrade the status to a non-member state, Ambassador Susan Rice irately said that the United States "will continue to oppose firmly any and all unilateral actions in international bodies." One has to be simultaneously deaf, dumb and blind or outright disingenuous to qualify the vote of over 130 countries on something as "unilateral." As a matter of fact, apart from Canada, no major country joined the U.S. and Israel in voting no. The other opponents included Palau, Panama and Micronesia. Britain and Germany abstained.
Rice added, "Today's grand pronouncements will soon fade. And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded." What she failed to mention is the bitter truth about her own government's criminal complicity has been at the heart of prolonging Palestinian suffering and their lack of statehood. The pro-Israeli U.S. Congress, more correctly known as the 'Amen Corner', has been behind a series of punishing measures cutting off financing to the UN aid agencies which had hitherto provided material support to the Palestinian people, including the UNESCO in 2011 after it accepted Palestine as a member.
The U.S. government is also guilty of shielding the pariah state of Israel from legal scrutiny of its actions which are considered criminal by every unbiased expert on the subject. Predictably, Rice described all efforts to hold Israel accountable for its actions and to abide by the international treaties, charters and conventions to which it is bound as "anti-Israel crap." What a disgraceful hogwash of 'conscience', which Obama alluded to!
The United Nations Human Rights Council said in a report issued last Thursday that Israel is violating international law in the West Bank, that Israel "must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers" from the West Bank and cease further settlement building "without preconditions." The UNHRC report said that Israel's settlement policies violate article 49 of the fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilian populations to occupied territory. It says the settlements are "leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination." "The Rome statute establishes the international criminal court's jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory," the UNHRC report stated. It added: "Ratification of the statute by Palestine may lead to accountability for gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law and justice for victims."
But seriously speaking, what chance is there that Israel would listen and abide by the Rome Statute when it has the U.S. to shield it from all its crimes - past, present and future?
As to the matter of resolving the tense U.S.-Iran relationship peacefully, the least said the better. Iran continues to be punished savagely for its legitimate right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. At Israel's behest - the rogue country that is a non-signatory to the NPT and is known to possess hundreds of nuclear bombs -- the U.S. government wants to stop that Iranian pursuit by hook or crook. It manufactures and spreads lies. In this regard, it is worth noting Dr. ElBaradei's statement, who earlier headed the IAEA. In 2011, he told The New Yorker, "During my time at the agency we haven't seen a shred of evidence that Iran has been weaponizing, in terms of building nuclear-weapons facilities and using enriched materials," before adding, "I don't believe Iran is a clear and present danger. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran."
But with a new director at the IAEA, long known to be the America's man in Vienna who has proudly boasted of being "solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision" (who began secretly meeting with White House and National Security Council officials before presenting biased IAEA reports on Iran), the campaign of lies and sanctions against Iran go unabated. A year ago, Suzanne Maloney - a former U.S. State Department policy adviser and currently a Senior Fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution - argued in Foreign Affairs that Obama's policy of sanctions against Iran had cornered his administration into a pointless regime change posture with no chance for successful diplomacy.
Since the days of GW Bush the pro-Israeli War Party has been beating the drum for war on Iran, lest we wake up to a mushroom cloud over an Israeli city. In his theatrical performance at the UN last year, Bibi Netanyahu has already introduced his 'ticking bomb' theory. Back then, on September 20, 2002, he told us, courtesy of the pro-war Wall Street Journal, about the necessity of going to war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He wrote, "This is a dictator who is ... feverishly trying to acquire nuclear weapons." He continued, "(I)f action is not taken now, we will all be threatened by a much greater peril ... (for) no gas mask and no vaccine can protect against nuclear weapons."
It did not take too long for everyone to find out what a liar Bibi was. But by then, the USA has lost nearly 5,000 of its own soldiers, and another 50,000 wounded, and killed and maimed nearly a million of Iraqis, and widowed and orphaned millions. The country was almost broke financially. Undaunted, however, with such massive losses the pro-Israeli War Party wants the USA to fight its next dirty war against Iran. It is there they need a pro-Israeli hawk in the Pentagon. Can Chuck Hagel, President Obama's nomination for the Secretary of Defense, be trusted to deliver for Israel?
Unlike Senator John Kerry (D - MA) who was confirmed as the Secretary of State, former senator Hagel is facing an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Many of the neoconservative pundits and politicians, and Israel-firsters, sold to the powerful Israeli-lobby, are up in their arms resisting his nomination. They claim that he would be 'soft' on Iran and 'harsh' on Israel - America's 'only' trusted ally.
A brand new conservative group calling itself 'Americans for a Strong Defense' and financed by anonymous donors is running advertisements urging Democratic senators in five states to vote against Chuck Hagel, saying he would make the United States "a weaker country." Another anonymously backed organization, Use Your Mandate, which its television time through a prominent Republican firm, is attacking Mr. Hagel as "anti-Israel" in ads and mailers. Anti-Hagel advertising - including TV and newspaper ads, website banner ads, and direct mailing - is also paid for by groups like the American Future Fund, the Emergency Committee for Israel (ECI), and Log Cabin Republicans.
But more troubling is the revelation that the gambling mogul Sheldon Adelson (chairman of the Las Vegas Sands Corporation and a die-hard Zionist, who was the biggest individual donor of the so-called super PACs with more than $100 million that sought to defeat Mr. Obama) has reached out directly to Republican Senators to urge them to hold the line against Hagel's confirmation. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal in December, Mr. Adelson said he was prepared to "double" his investment in politics in the coming year.
Seemingly the power and influence of the pro-Israeli lobbies would only grow in the coming years. Mindful of their growing power, many politicians in the USA are on a race to prove how protective they are of the Israeli interests. Last Thursday at the senate hearing, Senator Lindsey Graham, arguably the most hawkish member in the Capitol Hill, challenged Hagel's 2008 claim that the "Jewish lobby," or Israel lobby, "intimidates" people on Capitol Hill. To his question "Do you agree with me you shouldn't have said that?" Mr. Hagel agreed.
Republican Senator Ted Cruz soon followed by quoting an interview Hagel did on al Jazeera in 2009, in which Hagel responded to a question suggesting Israel had committed war crimes. "Do you think the nation of Israel has committed war crimes?" Cruz asked Hagel. "No I do not, senator. I would want to look at the full context of the interview, but to answer your question, no," Hagel said.
As can be seen all this hullaballoo about Chuck Hagel's nomination is like raising storm in a tea cup. When someone refuses to support his extremely supportable claim that the Israel lobby has intimidated US Congress and has helped to lobby for US policies that are blindly endorsing Israel's war crimes, no Israel-firster should lose his or her sleep over the potential harm caused by that person when he is confirmed as the Secretary of Defense. Chuck Hagel, like his peers, is another mainstream politician who has learned the trade well and surely belongs to the Club.
Iran represents no threat to the United States to justify a war. Nor is Iran threatening Israel with a war. In the last hundreds of years, Iran has never initiated a war against any country. As a signatory to the NPT, it has all the rights to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful means. The USA and the rest of the world are better off believing its peaceful purpose than to fall for Netanyahu's lies. The lies of Netanyahu, propagated by his partners in crime, had brought nothing but shame and suffering to the USA.
It would be absolutely foolish of President Obama to be fooled like Bush Jr. Let him instead walk the talk of his statement: "We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully - not because we are nave about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear." That would be fair and better for all. Or, will he play into the hands of Amen Corner and military industrial complex that are salivating over a war with Iran?
Dr Habib Siddiqui has authored 10 books. His latest book - Devotional Stories - is now available from A.S. Noordeen, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.